Are African Americans Missing the Point on Immigration

By Eric Ward

I don’t know about you, but one of the ways that a movie can become one of my all time favorites is by having a great line. The Usual Suspects is one of those movies. Most people like the film because of its incredible acting and one of the best plot twists of all time. I’m not one of those people; I love the film because of one simple line. That point in the film where Kevin Spacey who plays the role of Verbal Kent, who is under interrogation as law enforcement, explains the power of the criminal master mind Keyser Soze by simply stating that “[t]he greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.” I like that line and now I’m going to plagiarize Verbal Kent.

The greatest trick that the anti-immigrant movement has played on African Americans is convincing us that the anti-immigrant movement is no threat to us. I beg to differ. In fact I would like to make a modest proposal to Black America. That proposal is this: I believe that if there were not one immigrant or refugee in the United States we would still have an anti-immigrant movement. Why? Because the current so-called debate on immigration is not about coming to terms with the issue of migration; it is about who is an American and what will American look like. At its core anti-immigration is a national debate about civil rights, citizenship and national identity.

Beneath the irresponsible roar of Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly and other radio wannabes lays the underbelly of this so called anti-immigrant movement. It is a layer that they hope that African Americans don’t see. In fact, they are so worried that the key anti-immigrant organization - Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) - has created two front groups in an attempt to distract African Americans. The two groups are Choose Black America and the Coalition for the Future American Worker. Both “organizations” are staffed and/or received support by FAIR. While FAIR says that it cares about the welfare of Black Americans it has never used any of its resources to support one single piece of legislation seeking to lessen the economic plight of Black America. It has never returned the 1.2 million dollars that it has received from the anti-black Pioneer Fund, and refuses to hold accountable board members and staff that align themselves with individuals and organizations with ties to political extremists, including white nationalists.

Meanwhile, while lulling African Americans to sleep with Federation for American Immigration Reform and its constellation of organizations, they have systematically dismantled voting rights at the state level, supported armed vigilantes targeting brown skin people and are now in the mist of seeking to destroy the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. By using the racist term “anchor baby”, members of Congress, who are part of another FAIR front group called the House Immigration Reform Caucus, they were able to introduce into the present House of Representatives H.R. 1940. Sponsored by 103 Congressional Members, passage and implementation of H.R. 1940 would require eviscerating the 14th Amendment, a question of insurmountable import to black people who citizens’ rights have been historically guaranteed by this constitutional amendment.

While the debate on American identity is occurring on the backs of immigrants, I think it’s time that African Americans come to terms with the fact that an old enemy is undercutting the gains of the civil rights movement. The first step in fighting back is admitting that the anti-immigrant movement just might be the modern day face of white nationalism. Of course some of us will continue to believe the lies of FAIR, but that’s nothing new. The devil has always been able to buy souls on the cheap, apparently even ours.

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